Warrenton teacher, coach is a master of much

Warrenton teacher and coach Lynique Oveson, left, with one of her state-qualifying track athletes, Eli Petersen, following the district meet.

Teacher, coach, fisher, overseas traveler, singer and guitar player. Lynique Oveson, remarkably, is all of the above.

Her current work address is Warrenton High School.

Oveson is wrapping up her first year of teaching at Warrenton, and, just this weekend, took a handful of athletes to the state track meet in Eugene, as the Warriors’ track coach.

This summer, she will be back in Alaska, resuming her job on a fishing boat.

For a person who believes “everything happens for a reason,” Oveson’s coaching story alone is unique.

Technically, her time on the sidelines started when she was just a child.

“My dad coached at Wallowa High School (football, basketball and track), and I have pictures of me and my identical twin sitting on the bench, when we were 3 years old. Coaching is in our blood.”

After coaching the Warrenton junior varsity teams in volleyball and basketball last fall and winter, “I was trying to not coach this spring, and focus on teaching,” she said, “but that didn’t really happen.”

In her days as an athlete, Oveson competed in track La Grande High School, and later at the University of Portland.

“I did a little bit of everything, but my two main events were the javelin and 800. I hated the 800, but I was good at it.”

She was diagnosed with a heart condition her freshman year at Portland — which began her transition from athlete to coach.

The heart condition “turned out to be a blessing in disguise,” she said. “I started coaching when I was in high school (fifth- and sixth-grade Amateur Athletic Union basketball). I coached all through college, at an elementary school as a PE teacher, and at the middle school in La Grande.”

Oveson did some student-teaching in Saipan, and again volunteered her time to coach.

“That was a fun experience. I got to coach outrigger (a seagoing canoe race), soccer and football, and all kinds of crazy things. If they needed a coach, I was it. They have sports year-round there. It was crazy, but a lot of fun.”

On her return to the states, Oveson coached volleyball and basketball for a year at Jewell High School.

Then, she was on to the next adventure.

“I started commercial fishing, and thinking that if the right job came up, I would go back to teaching,” she said.

Oveson just didn’t know that the next teaching opportunity would come from the first email in her inbox.

“I was in Bristol Bay, and I had a day off, so I had a chance to look at my emails (some 800), and the very first one was an announcement for 635 new teaching jobs that I was qualified for. The first teaching job was in Warrenton, Oregon, and I was like, ‘Warrenton!? That would work out well, because I fish out of Warrenton.’

“The teaching job was for science and PE, two really cool things that I’m interested in. I didn’t have my resume or my teaching license with me (she was still on a fishing boat in Alaska), so I just sent an email to Rod Heyen (the principal), asking to put in my application.

“I gave him my satellite number on the boat if he was interested, and the next thing I knew I was doing an interview.”

And the next thing Heyen was doing was calling her back, “because I was in between setting on the boat,” Oveson said.

To wrap it up, Oveson got the job, finished her summer fishing, and arrived in Warrenton the first day of school. “I got off the plane at 5:09 in the morning, and school started at 7:30. That was the most awkward thing for a first day.”

And, of course the story of how she came to be a track coach isn’t normal, either.

“Kersee Lind, the head track coach, called me into his room and asked me if I would be interested in committing to a coaching position with the track team.

“I thought about it and said I was interested. The next thing I knew, Kersee was gone (as coach) and it was mass chaos. And Monday of the first track practice, they said, ‘Hey, the job’s open, you can apply.’”

And just like that, Oveson was named the varsity track coach, literally the first day of practice.

And all in all, it hasn’t been a bad season for Oveson and the track team. Her five state meet athletes earned a few medals.

From Wallowa to Saipan to Warrenton, the journey of life is still in the early stages for Oveson.

“I’m a big believer in things happening for a reason, so it’s been a good time for me,” said Oveson, who plans on returning to Warrenton High School next year, after Alaska this summer. “I absolutely love commercial fishing. It’s been a blast, and (the teaching job) was really the job I was looking for. Mr. Heyen is one of the most supportive administrators. The staff I work with is phenomenal in helping out new people.”

— Gary Henley

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